SPAL 2 AC Milan 3: Kessie brace not enough for Champions League place
AC Milan will spend a sixth season outside the Champions League despite completing their Serie A campaign with a Franck Kessie-inspired 3-2 win at SPAL on Sunday.
The Ivory Coast international scored twice after setting up Hakan Calhanoglu's opener but victories for Atalanta and Inter, who scored in the 81st minute to overcome Empoli 2-1, forced the Rossoneri to settle for fifth and a place in the Europa League.
It had appeared as though the visitors would leave Stadio Paolo Mazza without holding up their end of the bargain after Francesco Vicari and Mohamed Fares erased a two-goal deficit.
Kessie's 66th-minute penalty ensured that would not be the case, but Gennaro Gattuso enters the off-season on shaky ground.
Full-time— AC Milan (@acmilan) May 26, 2019
The Rossoneri claim all three points in Ferrara to end the season in fifth place
Tre punti a Ferrara: la stagione si chiude con il quinto posto in classifica#SPALMilan 2-3 #ForzaMilanpic.twitter.com/pXkVa5AleQ
Calhanoglu stung Emiliano Viviano's palms early on but gave the goalkeeper no chance with his next attempt, clinically picking out the bottom-left corner in the 18th minute.
Having provided a measured pass from the right for the opener, Kessie used his left foot to lash the visitors into a two-goal lead five minutes later.
Gianluigi Donnarumma was forced off with a muscle injury between those well-taken strikes and his replacement Pepe Reina had to pick the ball out of the net in the 28th minute after Vicari flicked on Alessandro Murgi's free-kick with his head.
And the scores were level within eight minutes of the restart, Fares rising well to nod in Thiago Cionek's lofted cross.
Cionek, however, offered the Rossoneri a chance to regain the lead by clumsily bundling over Krzysztof Piatek in the box.
Kessie made no mistake with the resultant penalty and, after the woodwork denied Sergio Floccari late on, Milan began looking for comfort in a 68-point haul, their best return since they last qualified for the Champions League in 2012-13.